Sacramento, Calif. • The last time Jimmer Fredette struggled like this? His freshman season at Brigham Young University.
Despite scoring five points against the Jazz during the first half Tuesday, the Sacramento Kings rookie guard also struggled to find a rhythm and appeared overmatched as soon as he entered the contest.
The limitations highlighted Fredette’s recent struggles, which have seen the No. 10 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft fall to the bottom of the Kings’ rotation.
“It’s not anything new for me. As far as my freshman year at BYU, it was pretty similar. So it’s not a new story or anything,” said Fredette, who entered Tuesday’s game averaging 8 points, 1.9 assists and 1.2 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from the field.
Sacramento coach Keith Smart said Fredette is clearly adjusting to a new role and increased expectations. At BYU, Fredette excelled with the ball in his hands and was the primary focus of the Cougars’ offense. With the Kings, Fredette is ranked below guards Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas, and his playing time has suffered as a result.
During Fredette’s previous three games, he averaged just 3.3 points, 2.6 field-goal attempts and 5.6 minutes. And Smart’s embrace of small ball has the Kings often running a three-guard attack with little room for Fredette.
“I look at clips of him … in college, what he was doing with the basketball,” Smart said. “He’s primarily making plays for himself, scoring, what have you. Now you’re asking a man to step back from shooting 30 times to get other people involved. And that’s hard when you’ve done that for a long period of time.”
Fredette said Smart wants him to improve his overall play at the point, while still looking for his shot when open. Fredette has yet to consistently display his passing skills, and he’s thinking too much while attempting to figure out opposing defenses, instead of simply reacting and firing away.
“It’s not anything different with me,” Fredette said. “I’m just trying to find the way to do it within the offense and the personnel that we have.”
Smart said the Kings still believe in Fredette and he remains in their long-term plans. But with an abbreviated preseason and little practice time due to a lockout-shortened season, Fredette likely won’t take the next step in his evolution until the 2011-12 campaign is complete.
“I have no doubt that Jimmer’s going to figure this all out and it’s going to all work out the way everyone thought it would work out,” Smart said. “But the tough part is going through the teething [process] with him and all of his followers, and everyone hoping and wanting something for him that just doesn’t come that easy when you’re making a transition.”